Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint Albin, Abbot and Bishop

illustration of Saint Albin, Abbot and Bishop, from the book 'Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict', designed by Father Amandus LiebhaberNever does piety produce more glorious fruits than when it has been implanted in earliest youth. At a tender age Saint Albin fled from his home – it was a noble and a wealthy one, just by the shores of France, where they are washed by the British Sea – and wedded the glory of a long and distinguished line of ancestors to a Monk’s cowl at the Monastery of Tintillac. The youthful novice spent his nights in watching, fasted whole weeks together, and mortified his flesh with the scourge; but the virtue wherein he shone most was that of obedience. Once in the midst of a storm of thunder and rain, so violent that those out of doors who were tending the flocks had to flee for their lives to the nearest shelter, Albin was bidden to deliver a letter at a considerable distance. Without a moment’s hesitation he set out, intent only on executing his orders. Though the very floodgates of heaven were opened, he reached his journey’s end – to the amazement of all – dry of foot and without a single drop on his garments. Such obedience marked out one who was fit to rule others and to inspire them by his example. So, a few years having elapsed, we find Albin Abbot of his own Monastery. His rule of twenty-five years was so successful, that all who were brought under his influence tried to emulate his virtues.

So widely spread throughout France was Albin’s fame for sanctity, that the Cathedral city of Angers, lately bereaved of its Bishop, besought him to fill the vacant throne. The new dignity brought no change in the strictness of his life. He still wore the monk’s habit, and lived according to the rigorous discipline of his Order. As Bishop, he sternly chastised such of his subjects as were licentious; he fed the poor, and cheered the downcast. By the virtue of his prayers a son, just dead, was brought back to life, to the joy of his sorrowing parents. His prayers, too, healed the eyes of one who was blind through being possessed by a devil; and, in spite of the opposition of the Governor of the city, he, by a miracle, gave freedom to a number of wretched debtors, who were suffering undeserved tortures in prison.

Opposition to the Bishop’s protection of the afflicted brought signal punishment. AEtherea, a woman of noble rank, being suspected by King Chilperic of some plot against him, had been thrown into a dungeon, and lay for a long time there in the midst of the most loathsome surroundings. On one of his errands of mercy, the good Pastor found her, and, after encouraging her with good words, said: “Come, AEtherea, follow me.” She gladly obeyed, and was going with her protector, when one of the guards, with foul abuse, tried to drag her from the Bishop’s side. Saint Albin merely breathed in the soldier’s face, when the latter fell dead. This so terrified the rest of the guards, that no further resistance was offered, and the unhappy AEtherea was released from her cruel captivity.

It was not only against the King’s soldiers, but against the King himself that the Saint’s power was shown. Chilperic, on one occasion, so far forgot the respect due to the Bishop, that he went hunting on a day on which Saint Albin had asked for an audience. In the chase the King came to a spot where the road divided in two – one path leading to where the Saint was, the other towards the haunts of the game. On reaching this spot, the King’s horse refused, spite of whip and spur, to proceed on the way the King wished to go in pursuit of the game. Another horse was mounted with the same result. Then, remembering the Bishop, and overcome with penitence, Chilperic wheeled round his steed, which willingly bore him, swift as the wind, to Albin’s presence.

After a long life, spent in good works and blessed with many manifestations of the Divine approval, Saint Albin died, in his eightieth year, about A.D. 570.

– text and illustration taken from Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict by Father Aegedius Ranbeck, O.S.B.